The “most famous woman in Russia” was there. So was Zsa Zsa Gabor. And Mr. Blackwell. And Cesar Romero. And Lindsay Wagner. And Vince Edwards. And the actor who played Ensign Chekov in “Star Trek.”
They came to the Armand Hammer Museum in Westwood to announce plans for “SpaceBridge 92,” in which celebrities here will speak via satellite television to their counterparts at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg on the night of the Academy Awards ceremony March 30.
The event will be part of an Oscar night party in which Russia’s ambassador to the United States will receive a humanitarian award on behalf of President Boris Yeltsin from a private Los Angeles-based foundation at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.
To publicize the Oscar night event, about a dozen celebrities were invited to a news conference Thursday at the Armand Hammer Museum, which will host this end of the satellite hookup.
The news conference got off to a somewhat humorous start when Ambassador Vladimir Lukin, who was seated in a studio in Washington, was not able to hear what was being said to him from Westwood.
The celebrities then took the microphone to ask questions of the ambassador.
Gabor said she was concerned about news reports that circus animals, including bears and wolves, were dying in Russia. She said she was wondering if she should contact pet food companies in the United States to see if they would help send food over there.
Lukin thanked her and explained that the Russian people--not just animals--were having difficult times but that they would be grateful for any help she could give.
“At least I put something in his mind,” Gabor said afterward.
The Oscar night party plans generated considerable controversy when promoters invited big-name stars on the assumption that Yeltsin would personally attend.
Actor Jack Lemmon even asked that his name be removed from the event after promoters sent out an invitation to Art Buchwald that the columnist said he found insulting because it mentioned actor Eddie Murphy as a host. Buchwald was suing Paramount Pictures over the Murphy film “Coming to America.” Murphy is not going to host the event.
Organizers now say that although Yeltsin will not attend the event, he might appear on live television from Russia.
Lukin said Yeltsin must remain in Russia, where he is “very much involved day-to-day in the difficult struggle.”
Peter Paul, president of the American Spirit Foundation, which is one of the sponsors, said the hope is that should the two-way hookup between people in the United States and Russia succeed, then similar satellite meetings will be held every two weeks in various Russian and American cities.
At Thursday’s news conference, Walter Koenig, who played Ensign Paul Chekov in “Star Trek,” told Lukin that the essence of the show he had appeared in off and on for more than 25 years was that “in the 23rd Century, we will be a one-world society.”
Lukin thanked him and said he hoped the 21st Century would be one of peace and cooperation.
Lindsay Wagner reminded the ambassador that it is important to supply the needs of the heart as well as food to the Russian people. If not, she said, “you won’t make it even with your food.”
Lukin thanked her.
After the press conference, designer Mr. Blackwell said he wanted to visit Russian and Ukraine, where his forebears came from.
“I want to go to Russia and dress them and teach them fashion,” Blackwell said. “It’s one thing to send them money so they eat. It’s another thing to send them knowledge so they can earn.”
There was even an appearance made by Djuna Davitashivili, described in a press release as “the most famous woman in Russia.”
Interpreters described her as a healer who uses bio-energy to make people well.
“She uses massage without contact and massage with contact and also uses a stimulator which she puts on the body,” one interpreter explained.
Davitashivili, whose biography states she was once a personal physician to late Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, said she was going to perform her healing techniques on various celebrities while in Hollywood and hoped she could make contact with Magic Johnson, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers, who has been diagnosed as having the HIV virus.
“She has a method to bolster the immune system,” one of her friends said as the healer looked on.